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Africa

2011-06-25

AFRICA/MADAGASCAR-Poverty and malnutrition for 2 Malagasy children out of 3

South Amboasary (Fides Service) - Two out of three Malagasy children live in poverty and 50% of children under five years of age has growth problems because of malnutrition. The situation is particularly serious in the city of South Amboasary, in the southeastern part of Anosy, Madagascar, where at the Center for Treatment and Cure for Acute Malnutrition with Complications (CRENI) is where children are hospitalized because their height-weight ratio results determine a state of acute malnutrition. Also in the same city, connected with the clinic is another center for Treatment and Cure for Acute Malnutrition without Complications (CRENAS). A graph by CREN in Amboasary South shows that about one third of the 130 admissions recorded in 2010 occurred between March and May, at the end of the dry season, but local doctors say that the drought is a cyclical problem that affects the region only occasionally, while there are social and economic phenomena that are a constant threat to food security.
In the more arid south, increasingly unpredictable weather conditions threaten to increase malnutrition among children, particularly between the months of October and March, when food is scarce. Chronic malnutrition is often caused by a prolonged lack of food. The medical and health care workers in charge of identifying malnutrition in children are turning to CRENAS, the most severe with complications are sent to CREN. Generally, children remain 10 days at CREN and after gaining some weight are sent back to CRENAS, where mothers and children are helped with support and training, ready to use therapeutic food to take home. It is highly nutritious food: peanut paste that contains micronutrients and is a real salvation for an area of the country where 60% of the population live more than 5 km away from the nearest health center.
Moreover, according to some experts, protein deficiencies also contribute to these "local trends" or taboo regarding the consumption of certain foods in areas where meat is an unaffordable luxury for most people. Children are forbidden to eat eggs and chicken and sweet potatoes can be eaten only when picked. Chickens are considered "dirty" and there is the belief that eating eggs will make men and women dumb. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 06/25/2011)

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